United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF WAUSAU'S OBJECTIONS TO
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER COMPELLING DISCOVERY AND
MODIFYING ORDER IN PART [DOC. 82]
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case stems from an underlying lawsuit (the “Holt
Litigation”) filed by Burt Holt against Reliable
Transportation, Amarild Ushe and a coco-defendant who is not
a party to this action, related to injuries sustained by Holt
when he was struck by a tractor trailer operated by Ushe. The
present litigation arises out of plaintiff Wausau
Underwriters Insurance Company's (“Wausau”)
declaratory judgment complaint seeking a declaration from
this court that it is responsible for no more than the policy
limit under the commercial insurance policy issued to
Reliable. Reliable Transportation and Ushe filed a
counterclaim alleging that Wausau acted in bad faith against
its insured by refusing to negotiate a settlement within the
policy limits in the Holt Litigation.
matter is presently before the court on Wausau's
objections to the Magistrate Judge's March 17, 2017 Order
Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion
to Compel Discovery Responses (“Order”). The only
portion of the Order that Wausau objects to relates to the
requirement that Wausau “must produce the docket
information for cases from within the past 3 years in which
bad faith failure to settle was alleged against Liberty
Mutual and/or its subsidiaries.” Doc. 80, p. 2. For the
reasons set forth below, Wausau's objection is granted
and the Magistrate Judge's order is modified accordingly.
motion to compel, Reliable and Ushe sought responses from
Wausau for documents relating to other litigated cases:
15. Copies of all documents regarding other litigation
regarding the same or similar issues as in the above styled
case or in bad faith cases in same, or in other
jurisdictions, both trial and appellate courts, from the last
three (3) years.
16. Copies of all documents regarding any and all judgments
awarded against Wausau in other litigation regarding the same
or similar issues as in the above styled case or in bad faith
cases in the same or in other jurisdictions, both trial and
appellate courts, from the last three (3) years.
17. Copies of all documents regarding any awards of punitive
damages against Wausau within the last seven (7) years,
including the jurisdiction in which the punitive damages were
awarded and the style of the case.
filed a response in opposition to the motion to compel,
arguing that the requests for information relating to other
litigation are overly broad and seek irrelevant information.
March 1, 2017, the parties met to discuss the outstanding
discovery issues as required by the Magistrate Judge. At this
meeting, Reliable's counsel stated that Reliable was
seeking information from any Liberty Mutual company, not just
Wausau. On March 3, 2017, Reliable and Ushe filed a report
with the Magistrate Judge stating that it would limit its
requests to “bad faith failure to settle” cases,
as opposed to any bad faith case. Reliable also offered to
limit the request to certain jurisdictions, subject to
further detail from Wausau. Reliable further stated it
contemplated withdrawing Request 17 “[a]s punitive
damages do not appear to be allowable . . . .” The
report did not state that Reliable was expanding the request
to include all Liberty Mutual companies.
March 8, 2017, Wausau filed its response to Reliable and
Ushe's report. Wausau objected on the basis of relevance
and explained the practical difficulties in complying with
the requests. Wausau did not address its objections to
including all Liberty Mutual companies because it was not
discussed by Reliable.
Judge Stafford heard oral argument on the motion to compel on
March 16, 2017. She granted the motion in part and denied it
in part. With respect to the request for information
pertaining to other litigation the order states:
Wausau must produce the docket information for cases from
within the past 3 years in which bad faith failure to settle
was alleged against Liberty Mutual and/or its subsidiaries.
To the extent that defendants have requested documentation
regarding any such litigation ...